MOBILESPACE—A new report by an online security firm indicates that for the first time porn is no longer the leading source of mobile malware. Blue Coat security firm, which released the results of its global study of data from more than 75 million mobile-device users today, noted the stark increase of web-based ads as a source of malware from its fourth position in late 2012 to its first place finish this year.
"Being in the security space, we're not often surprised by these stats -- but that is a big jump in a short period," said Sasi Murthy, VP of product marketing security for Blue Coat.
According to a report on NBCNews.com, "Porn viewing makes up only 1 percent of mobile browsing activity, but it accounts for 16 percent of all malicious attacks. Web ads, by comparison, comprise 12 percent of requested mobile content and 20 percent of attacks."
In fact, according to Blue Coat's data, malicious web ads more than tripled since November 2011, from 5.7 percent of all malware logged to the current 20 percent. That increase has them worried.
According to NBC, "The upward trend in malicious web ads is concerning for a few reasons. First, the 'malvertising' is delivered through the same networks as legitimate ads. Meanwhile, the amount of legitimate ads is also increasing — which makes it even more confusing for users to tell which content may be malicious."
The ways in which people use their mobile devices also makes then prime targets. According to the firm, "People use their mobile devices for 'recreational' activities like shopping and entertainment nearly 12 percent of the time. That's prime content for ads."
That said, porn is hardly off the hook. In fact, in its 10-page report, Blue Coat provided a few safe mobile surfing reminders:
* Avoid clicking on ads on mobile devices.
* Avoid pornography on mobile.
* Consider blocking Web ads as a content category altogether.
* Never download an app outside of legitimate marketplaces like the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Needless to say, none of those recommendations, as sensible as a few of them may be, are what the adult entertainment industry needs to hear at the moment, though they may fall mostly on deaf ears.